District won’t get too deep in help

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The Bullitt County Sanitation District voted to recoup its expenses incurred in helping with a private sewer plant

By Thomas Barr

 HILLVIEW - In the time of an emergency, the Bullitt County Sanitation District was ready to help out the owner of a private treatment facility.

However, that lending of a hand will not go any further until a long-term solution to the problem surrounding the failure of the Hunters Hollow treatment facility is developed.

On March 29, a failure in the wall of the Bullitt Utilities treatment facility led to over 300,000 gallons a day of raw sewage being dumped onto the ground and into a tributary of Brooks Run.

The facility is located off East Blue Lick Road and Triangle Lane.

Currently, a temporary treatment plant has been brought onto the property to handle much of the waste produced by the 700 customers.

Before the sanitation district does too much additional work, its board voted to cease until expenses have been paid and a long-range plan be developed and any new work to be paid for up-front.

District manager Jerry Kennedy said that there has been assistance provided by hauling off sludge and preparing a way that some of the existing treatment plants could treat some of the sewage to avoid more going into the creek.

County attorney Monica Robinson said that the district has met its burden of assistance and it is not obligated to spend customer dollars to clean up a private company’s problem.

“This is not our baby,” said Robinson.

At this point, Kennedy said the Carroll Cogan family is deciding what steps it will take for a long-term solution. The state Division of Water is also part of those discussions.

District engineer David Derrick said that while the actual cause of the wall to literally blow out may never be known, it was a 40-year-old facility.

“It’s a real environmental mess,” said Derrick.

During a dry day, the plant may have treated 150,000 gallons. On a wet one, the infiltration issues may have pushed that number to over 500,000 gallons.

PECCO, a company out of Nicholasville, has been hired to bring in a temporary treatment plant, which is in operation.

A pipeline has been run to the sanitation district’s connection at the Gilt Group site. A pump must be rebuilt and that will take about a week.

Kennedy said that pump would have needed to be fixed no matter the situation.

Once that situation is fixed, Derrick said there is some capacity on a short-term basis to push excess sewage to either the Willabrook facility or the Western Road facility. 

Another option is to take the sewage to the ProLogis plant, which is owned by the city of Hillview but operated by the sanitation district.

The best option to treat a large amount of sewage long-term would be to take a line to the plant off John Harper. Derrick said there is room to expand that plant.

Without knowing the plans of the Cogan family, which has attempted to sell the Hunters Hollow plant to the district as late as a few months ago, Derrick said it is hard to move forward.

If the Bullitt Utilities ownership decided to not rebuild or to turn its customers over to the sanitation district in some type of arrangement, Derrick said then there could be some long-range planning done.

Derrick didn’t know what role the state Division of Water will play in those long-term decisions. He felt confident that the state is very concerned about the environmental issues surrounding the spill.

If the district would absorb the current Hunters Hollow customers, Derrick said the goal would be to have a way to treat the sewage without constructing a new plant.

The key would be the Pioneer Village plant, which is running well below capacity. And there is ample room to expand the plant on property already owned by the district.

However, Derrick said he would not move forward with additional engineering work until a plan is put in place.

Interim board chairman Chuck Callahan said that the state would have to do something if the sanitation district wasn’t there to provide some assistance.

The board agreed with Robinson that the district should not be spending its customer revenue on fixing a private company’s problem.

That is why Callahan did not want the district to provide a lot of assistance without payment.

The board voted 2-0 to cease additional engineering work and to send a bill for what work has been so far. Any future work would be covered with some up-front funds.